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Development of Nanostructured Wick-based Passive Heat Spreaders for Thermal Management of Radio Frequency Electronic Devices
Keywords: thermal management, nanomaterial, heat spreader
Spreading of high-flux waste heat is a critical part of any packaging design. This need is particularly profound in the realm of Radio Frequency (RF) devices, where the emergence of wide band gap semiconductor technology has driven dissipated heat fluxes well over 100W/cm2. The work performed in this project is directed at the development of a low resistance multi-chip vapor chamber heat spreader (utilizing capillary driven two-phase heat transport). The vapor chamber technology under development in this program overcomes the limitations of state-of-the-art approaches through the use of nanostructured material systems as high performance wicks capable of generating unprecedented capillary pressure with low thermal resistance. This paper reviews the development of this technology under Raytheon’s DARPA funded Thermal Ground Plane program. Major activities in this development effort include design and synthesis of wick nanomaterial systems and development of characterization methods. Specialized analytical techniques under development are aimed to facilitate engineering of optimal wick structures for maximum capillary pumping and minimal thermal resistance. Design and synthesis of carbon nanotube (CNT), nanocomposite and metallic nanowire (MNW) wick structures are discussed. Functionaization of these wick structures with nanoparticle coatings is used to enhance wicking and increase peak sustainable heat flux. Innovative characterization methods for quantifying thermal resistance and wicking performance of these material systems are described as are analytical techniques for modeling evaporative heat transfer in representative wick structures. Finally, application to high-power RF devices and systems are discussed along with future paths of development and insertion of this technology. Distribution Statement “A” (Approved for Public Release, Distribution Unlimited).
David Altman, Principal Mechanical Engineer
Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems
Sudbury, MA


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